February 22, 2012
We Are Cunard
What wonderful people Australians are. Queen Mary 2 is busy on her ‘Royal Circumnavigation of Australia’ and Queen Elizabeth arrives in Sydney early next week. Queen Mary 2 has received a terrific welcome and there has been a huge amount of interest shown by local media. I thought it would be good to share with you some of the highlights of what Queen Mary 2 has been up to. Firstly we have a guest blog from David Jones, Corporate Communications Manager, Carnival Australia with his highlights from the voyage so far…
Even we Australians are fascinated and awed by the vast size of our island continent.
Simply driving across it from east to west conquering the vast outback travelling from roadhouse to roadhouse along the way is a week long ‘jaunt’.
To imagine travelling south to north all the way to Cape York Peninsula — the most northerly point on the Australian mainland — is an even more daunting proposition.
It is one of those trips on the ‘Bucket List’ of many Australians but the sheer remoteness of the region rules it out for most people no matter how much they would love to see their country’s most northern extremity.
Yet Cunard Line’s magnificent Queen Mary 2 has just delivered her Australian passengers and fascinated international travellers to the tip of Cape York Peninsula with luxurious ease on her historic Royal Circumnavigation of Australia.
And this notable rounding of Cape York is but a fragment of this voyage giving Queen Mary 2′s guests a unique view of the Australian continent while sailing anti-clockwise from Fremantle to Fremantle — or if, like me, you’re a Sydneysider, from Sydney to Sydney!
For me, seeing Cape York and the beautiful waters of the Gulf of Carpentaria has been one of those fantastic once in a lifetime experiences made possible only by Queen Mary 2′s circumnavigation.
It was clear from the many guests lining the open decks with cameras poised on the port side of the ship that this was a high point of the voyage for them as well.
Up on deck, Paul Brunton, senior curator of the State Library of New South Wales, was mesmerised by the unfolding coastal landscape and myriad tiny islands.
He’s travelling on board Queen Mary 2 with the journals and atlas crafted by master British navigator, Captain Matthew Flinders, who gave Australia her name, following his 1802-1803 circumnavigation of the continent on HMS Investigator, a 30-metre long sailing ship that could fit ten or more times over within Queen Mary 2′s amazing 345-metre length.
Paul is an internationally renowned expert on Matthew Flinders and, since coming on board Queen Mary 2 in Sydney, he has been giving twice daily presentations to an ever increasing number of passengers in the ship’s 8000-volume strong library on deck eight.
He joined passengers at the bow of Queen Mary 2 staying beyond sunset delighted to be sailing in the wake of his explorer heroes, James Cook, who claimed Australia for England in 1770, William Bligh and, of course, Matthew Flinders.
Each day, Paul has dutifully turned the page of Flinders’ priceless atlas to match the daily location of Queen Mary 2 on her current voyage.
At the same time, Queen Mary 2′s voyage has also provided guests with contemporary experiences as the Cunard Line flagship has made maiden calls to Brisbane, the riverside capital of the state of Queensland named in honour of Queen Victoria, and to Cairns in its far tropical north.
Guests returned from their tender ‘voyages’ to Airlie Beach speaking excitedly of shore tours that took them to snorkelling expeditions on the Great Barrier Reef or for an exhilarating ride on a sailing catamaran including a sweep around an anchored Queen Mary 2 to get a water level view of her classic ocean liner outline.
The Royal Circumnavigation of Australia is by its very nature also a voyage of maiden calls including Brisbane, Cairns and Darwin, and true to form wherever she goes Queen Mary 2 attracts crowds of people who, if they could, would will themselves on board even for only a fleeting visit.
In Cairns, resident Cunard and Queen Mary 2 devotee, 21 year old, Leah Drummond, was on hand at a beachside park to share her vast knowledge of the company that owns the world’s most famous ocean liners. Leah had with her a kit model of the Queen Mary 2 that she had spent four months painstakingly building on her family’s kitchen table. Her devotion and encyclopaedic knowledge of Queen Mary 2 earned Leah an admiring story in her local newspaper.
No one on board will ever forget the spectacular Valentine’s Day arrival in Sydney Harbour with the red love hearts adorning Queen Mary 2′s superstructure and the ‘Marry me Jess?’ banner draped from the side of the ship where the illuminated ‘Queen Mary 2′ name plate would normally be seen. As media helicopters buzzed overhead, ‘Who’s Jess?’ became the question of the hour with Stefan and Jess soon revealed as the much in love couple whose betrothal was announced in perhaps the world’s most spectacular fashion.
During her Royal Circumnavigation and longest spell away from her Northern Hemisphere home ports of Southampton and New York, it’s almost as if Queen Mary 2 has become an Aussie ship, if only for the time being. It’s a voyage with a decided Australian accent but it is also clear that the ship’s international guests don’t for a moment begrudge the hundreds of Aussie passengers enjoying seeing their island home from such a unique perspective. Nineteenth Century navigator, Captain Matthew Flinders, is a hero to Australians and his journal and atlas being on Queen Mary 2′s circumnavigation is deeply symbolic for them.
It doesn’t matter where you go in Australia or how remote the location, you always feel you’re among friends. With that thought in mind, Queen Mary 2 can consider herself adopted as she sails regally around the land we Australians are proud to call our vast and spacious home.
Thank you David, for a great account of Queen Mary 2′s journey so far.
The media coverage in Australia has been vast, have a look at this News Video clip. It does two things – firstly I think it really brings to life the customer experience on board Queen Mary 2 – and within that the different experiences during the day and at night. Secondly it covers our very special Valentine arrival in Sydney. Here it is;
I do hope that our guests are enjoying their circumnavigation of Australia – I hear from the team on board that they certainly are. We were looking to do something different and innovative on the current world voyage. We looked at Australia and thought that all the best bits are on the outside of the country. Building on the success our Round Britain Voyages – we thought we would go ‘Round Australia’ and it has been a major success. In early 2013 we are doing something similar – but this time next year Queen Mary 2 will go ‘Around New Zealand’. New Zealand is another beautiful country and we believe this voyage will be every bit as successful as going round Australia.
More news to follow on hoe Queen Elizabeth is welcomed into Sydney – arriving into that beautiful harbour on a Cunard Queen is a sight to behold…….
I hope you are all keeping well.